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How To Start Creating Your Own Cross Stitch Designs (Part I)

Aug 17, 2007
Have you ever searched for ages and not found that particular pattern you've been dreaming about doing? Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, why not try creating your own cross stitch designs? There are a number of ways you can create your own patterns so that you can get the perfect design any time.

Where to Find Ideas
Ideas for your cross-stitch project can come from anywhere. You may have a favorite photo or a concept in your head. You may just be looking for something that includes a certain design element from your decor. Sometimes those ideas are pretty detailed and there is no way a store-bought pattern will duplicate the effect you want. Yet, where your idea comes from will help determine the method you use to create your own cross-stitch pattern.

Pencil and Paper Method
Do you have a drawing that you think would be perfect for a design? Are you a little artistic? Then it may be easiest to use the old-fashioned pencil and paper method for designing your own cross stitch pattern.

You will need some basic supplies to use this method. You will need graph paper or blank cross stitch paper, which is harder to find. If you use graph paper, make sure it has at least eight squares per inch. If you prefer, you can design your own graph paper through the Microsoft Excel software program or find printable graph paper on the Internet.

Besides graph paper you will also need a good pencil and excellent eraser. Your eraser should be able to erase without smearing the pencil lines. You may also want to use colored pencils to shade your chart so you can see the different colors you will need.

Also, a floss color chart is helpful to match the right color to the right places on your chart. These are available on the websites of the leading thread manufacturers.

When you have your supplies, then you can start drawing your design on the graph paper. Be conscious of the size of your drawing. If you stitch a picture drawn on 16 count fabric that was drawn on an eight squares per inch graph paper, you will find that the final design is only half the size of your drawing.

After you have your drawing on the graph paper, then you need to square off the edges. You need to go along the curved elements of your drawing to create those three-quarter and quarter fractional stitches along the curves so that it is easier for you to stitch. You will also need to create your backstitch lines so that they are on the sides of the squares for easy stitching. This process can be time consuming and will require you to erase a lot, which is why you need a good eraser. After you square off your picture you will then need to shade it.

This helps the design to have a three-dimensional look. A little art know-how is good here. In shading, you first determine a light source. For instance, if you are drawing a flower the light source may be coming from the top left of your picture. This creates shadows as you move down toward the bottom right. Things that are closer to the top left will be lighter, and they will create shadows on the other items. Also, items in the background will be darker.

When you have the shading done, you can then take your colored pencils and color in your design. If you do not want to use colored pencils, then you can use symbols to demonstrate the different colors you will use in your project. However, when you first begin creating your own cross-stitch designs with the pencil and paper method, colored pencils may be easier to use.

Good luck with your cross stitch creations and we hope you enjoy many happy hours polishing your design skills.
About the Author
John Wigham has been a professional author and editor for 20 years and is a co-founder of Patterns Patch an online cross stitch club dedicated to counted cross stitch. The website has a small team of writers who are devoted to our cross stitch club and enjoy writing about their hobby.
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